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Weight Loss in Perimenopause and Beyond

By Claire Bacon, ACN, CNC

Hormones are so powerful.  They profoundly change us as we go through our lives.  When we’re young, we really have no appreciation of what our hormones are doing for us – it just happens.  And then just when we feel like we’ve figured out our bodies and things are under control – they change! Welcome to Perimenopause. 

Perimenopause is the time of life when menstrual cycles get more irregular, and symptoms appear that maybe we’ve never felt before.  This is a time when our ovaries make a last ditch effort to make a good surge of estrogen like they’ve been doing for so many years.  But, it’s just not happening.  Meanwhile, our progesterone is taking a slow and steady decline, and testosterone may be on the way down, too.

All of a sudden, things feel different.  There’s a certain fog in the brain that doesn’t go away with coffee.  Aches and pains come and go in different areas mysteriously.  Sex isn’t as fun and sometimes it hurts.  And where is all this weight coming from?

What’s a girl to do??

Well, we know what you can’t do – you can’t continue doing the same things and expecting a different results.  We have to rethink your whole routine.  Trash the previous beliefs.  And figure out how to accommodate some new habits!

That’s right – the weight loss tips we’ve counted on our whole lives simply don’t work anymore.  Don’t get me wrong – we still need to eat right and exercise.  But what it means to “eat right and exercise” is totally different in our 40s and 50s than it was in our 20s and 30s.

Once upon a time, we knew what we had to do, and it worked.  Just cut back on food overall.  Eat more vegetables and less sugar.  So many of my friends spent hours on the treadmill or elliptical – burning and counting calories like there was no tomorrow.  But time changes things.  Now we have kids and more demanding jobs.  Our responsibilities take up more of our “disposable time”.

But even if we had the willingness and time to be elliptical bunnies, it would be a huge waste of time.  Simply stated, it doesn’t work!  That’s because the answer lies in WHAT we’re eating and WHEN, not HOW MUCH.  The answer lies in HOW we’re working out, not HOW LONG.  And calories have almost nothing to do with it!

Elliptical bunnies

The New and “Matured” Plan

As we get older, our bodies have different nutritional requirements to maintain good hormone balance.  We have different needs for exercise so we can hang onto our muscle mass.  What I’m about to say may blow your mind.  But we have to be open to change.  We already know that what we’ve been doing is getting us NOWHERE.

Now that we’re older (and wiser) we simply don’t have the same needs for carbohydrates.  Unless you’re a marathon runner,  you probably can’t get away with the pasta and bread that used to be so cheap and convenient.  Of course, we still need a nutrient-dense diet rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants.  Bring on the colorful foods!  But at this time, what we need MOST of all is PROTEIN!

OMG!  But for all these years, I’ve been letting my husband have the larger portion of meat, while I take the larger portion of vegetables!  What will we do now?  I’ll tell you what you’re gonna do – party like it’s 1999!  No.  You’ll party like it’s 1099 – eating natural foods without GMOs or synthetic pesticides, and mimicking useful exercises (i.e. lifting heavy things). 

Of course, we’re not letting go of our modern conveniences.  But we’ve got to return to the foods of our distant ancestors – eating full fat, delicious animal protein, healthy fats, and foods that are preserved with natural lacto-fermentation.

What are fermented foods?


Fermentation refers to the process of making a food more edible or shelf stable through the use of bacteria, salt, and time.  It’s actually a very safe, simple way to create intense flavours which can then be incorporated into incredible recipes.  And our ancestors have been doing this forever!

Did you know?  The earliest record of fermentation dates back as far as 6000 B.C. in the Fertile Crescent—and nearly every civilization since has included at least one fermented food in its culinary heritage. Where is your heritage from?

  • England – Various cheeses from milk
  • France – Wine and Champagne from grapes
  • Germany – Sauerkraut from cabbage and beer from barley
  • China – Douchi from black beans and Lao pa daek (fish sauce)
  • Russia – Borscht from beets
  • India – Chutney from fruits and vegetables
  • Korea – Kim Chi from cabbage and Banchan
  • Africa – Garri made from cassava
  • Native America – Nixtamal wrapped in corn leaves and Manzanita berries
  • Japan – Tofu, Miso, and Natto from soybeans
  • Tanzania – Togwa
  • Thailand – Nam pla (fish sauce)
  • Vietnam – Mam from seafood

Modern Research

Studies now show that certain strains of probiotics contribute to the microbial balance of the gastrointestinal tract—supporting the immune system and reducing inflammation in the gut. Health conditions that can benefit from probiotics therapy include diarrhea, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer. And menopause!!

During menopause and perimenopause, lowered estrogen levels can lead to decreased good bacteria in the gut, potentially causing all sorts of unwelcome effects.  These could include:  yeast infections, itching, discharge, and/or a funny odor.  Not funny ha ha, funny weird!  That’s why it’s good to consume probiotic foods – to ensure good microbial diversity. And prebiotics are the good types of fiber that feed them.

Knowing what we now know, it’s clear we need to revamp our dietary guidelines, supplements, and workout programs.  Here are the main points:

10 Key Points for Perimenopause Weight Loss:

The Essentials…

  1. Intermittent fasting for 16 hours.  That means no breakfast aside from coffee, tea, broth, and/or water, and waiting to have your first meal until 12:00.  An afternoon snack is fine.  Need to be done with dinner by 8:00.
  2. Aim for 100 grams of protein a day from a variety of sources, mostly meat, poultry, and fish.  That means mandatory 8 oz of animal protein at lunch and dinner, the size of your entire hand.
  3. Get a variety of whole-food, natural fats in your diet:  butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, beef tallow, and even palm oil.  There’s more to life than just olive oil!  Add MCT oil or avocado to your protein shakes.  Only homemade dressings on your salads.  Completely avoid canola, soybean, and vegetable oils.  And no fake butter spreads!
  4. Take an in-depth look at your hormones.  They are not a mystery; they just require a small investment.  We recommend the DUTCH Complete as a first step, with a thorough review of your sex hormones, melatonin, and organic acids.
  5. Need small portions of a variety of fermented foods, several times (4-5x) a week.  (No, I don’t mean wine!)  Wine is the worst thing for your hot flashes!!  Instead, try Kombucha tea, Kim Chi, cultured vegetables, fermented pickles, or coconut kefir.

If fermented foods don’t appeal to you, then take a rotating cycle of probiotics. We have yet to find a probiotic supplement that encompasses all of these, thus variety of sources is key.  We find the most beneficial strains include:

Lactobacillus gasseriAkkermansia muciniphila
Lactobacillus fermentumBifidobacterium longum
Lactobacillus acidophilusBifidobacterium bifidum
Lactobacillus amylorvusBifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis
Lactobacillus plantarumSpore-based Bacillus strains
Lactobacillus reuteriStreptococcus thermophilus
Lactobacillus rhamnosus 

Just as important…

  • Need resistance exercise on a regular basis. Not just a body-pump class – I mean high weight and moderate to low reps so you feel some muscle fatigue.  First thing in the morning is best.  Longer workouts with extended cardio earn you a bigger portion of sweet potato or quinoa.
  • Also need to sweat on a regular basis.  Some women really don’t like to sweat.  But we can’t get away from this reality – it’s a wonderful form of detoxification!  Think saunas and hot yoga if you’re not into running or spinning.
  • Support your adrenals like never before!  Manage your stress and be realistic about your responsibilities.  Take your adaptogens!  May like Maca in your smoothies, too.
  • Be simple yet creative with dessert.  Bitter chocolate is best – you only need a square!  Also may like fresh berries or homemade coconut oil fat bombs.  Lemon or chocolate – both are equally good!
  • Keep your coffee organic and mold-free.  We recommend Purity Dark Roast, Lifeboost, or Bulletproof brands.  Only use a traditional percolator or drip coffee maker, or a French Press.  Keurig machines have potential issues:  running hot water over plastic picks up chemicals, and there’s possibility of mold inside a hidden chamber.  Add collagen, butter and coconut oil, or a Keto creamer.  Nothing with chemical ingredients!

Add-Ons to the Basics:

Are you feeling especially motivated?  Then you may like to add a few of these favorite supplements to your daily routine.  All of these are available in-office, so just ask!

  • Body Health Perfect Amino – to ensure all the essential amino acids.  Good for muscle building, repair and recovery.
  • Mediherb Adrenal Complex – for adrenal gland restoration and balanced cortisol and cortisone.
  • Mediherb Wild Yam Complex – to support your own endogenous progesterone production.
  • Standard Process Diaplex – for complete digestion and a first step to help with sugar cravings.
  • Orthomolecular Hiphenolic or Mediherb Gymnema – when you seriously need appetite control.
  • Standard Process SP Cleanse – to promote liver and gallbladder functions.  Good in the short term when you need to push detoxification.  Standard Process Cruciferous Complete or Orthomolecular CDG EstroDIM may be better long-term liver detox pathway supports.
  • Microbiome Labs FODMATE – if you tend to get bloated and gassy with high fiber vegetables.
  • Life Extension Collagen Peptides – these are the building blocks of beautiful skin and strong connective tissue.  Blends easily into a smoothie or into your coffee.
  • Eliminate hormone disruptors – if you’re not already, switch your makeup and skin care products to something nontoxic.  We recommend Beauty Counter, Pure Haven, Doterra, Poofi Organics, or Crunchi.
  • Dry Farm Wines – if you like to drink wine, it’s time you switched to a no-sugar, low-alcohol, glyphosate-free wine.  Much better for your health than the typical California wines!  Need to limit wine to socializing on the weekends.  Don’t overdo it!
  • Combine your hot sauna work with a cold plunge.  Our friends over at Biocharge in Woodstock have a Macdaddy setup!  Go meet Laura and Melana and check it out!

Final Thoughts on Perimenopause

Weight loss demands weights!

Bottom line… Perimenopause can be a very confusing time.  Things are changing and your body doesn’t even feel like you anymore.  The path to feeling better begins with understanding what’s going on inside.  Get your hormones checked.  Look at your thyroid function and other blood markers.  Bring your questions, and talk with an expert!  Let us put things in perspective for you.

We have a lot of training and experience with looking deeper into hormones, and what to do to get you feeling better.  If you’ve never had a personalized Nutrition consult, you owe it to yourself to find out what’s missing.  It’s the best choice you can make!

Wishing you all the best in vibrant health,

Dr. Bacon, Claire, and Kathryn

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